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Men in the middle

Tivea Koam noticed that looking feminine is quite cool among many young men in Cambodia. In this article he finds out why.

Posters of Korean pop stars and their hairstyles adorn the walls of the beauty salon while people wait to have their hair done. The hairdressers work quickly, cutting and styling their customers – mostly teenagers – hair.

With a broad smile on his made-up face, Sok Chamreoun, the 29-year-old owner of the Chea Styles Beauty Salon for almost 10 years, said men and especially teenagers have changed their look and styles in recent years.

“In the past, men did not care much about their style and the way they looked, but since the Korean influence men now like to be stylish and fashionable,” said Sok Chamreoun. “They order new hair styles. They have their hair dyed and straightened. They even wear make-up. They are following Korean styles.”

He added that men nowadays are obsessed with style and are extremely metro sexual since they exposed themselves to music videos and television featuring Korean and some western stars.

What Sok Chamreoun said was echoed by Ing Vanni, a trainer and social worker at Social Services of Cambodia, who graduated in psychology. He said that influences from the outside world through television and the internet, especially singers or movie stars, have affected the way men think about how they look.

“What men are changing is themselves – their styles and looks are to attract the attention of others. When they watch television and see the stars getting a lot of attention, they try to change their looks by going to beauty shops to make themselves elegant and attractive,” Ing Vanni said.

He added that if these men live with others who are stylish and care about beauty, their looks will start following the trends to stay fashionable.

Nineteen-year-old Theok Chantorn, a sophomore of law at the Royal University of Law and Economics, said he likes making himself stylish and fashionable because it makes him look cool and handsome to other teenagers.

“T-shirts, mini jeans, sportswear shoes and watches are stylish possessions I use. I also like having my hair dyed, I had my ear pierced, I apply lotion and go to spar to make myself look more fabulous and stylish,” he said. “I see stylish people who look awesome and I want to be like them. So I follow what they are doing.”

Sok Keang, the 33-year-old owner of Guitar Men Shop which sells men’s clothes and shoes, said that about six years after opening her shop she noticed that men had developed their own styles. “Men like Korean and Hong Kong styles a lot recently and they seek mini jeans that make them look really slim,” she said. “They probably follow people on TV and the internet.”

Men nowadays make themselves look good by not only changing styles and buying new things, but also by having plastic surgery, which is popular in South Korea.

According to an expert on chin augmentation at the Pkay Prak Beauty Salon Shop, there are more men than women having plastic surgery. He added that men aged from 18 to 50 have come to have plastic surgery at the shop.

“Men come here to do reshaping of noses, chin augmentation, blepharoplasty, cheek augmentation or a whole set on the face,” he said, adding that they have plastic surgery because their faces are not beautiful and attractive, making them feel uncomfortable when they join any events. Some believe they will get lucky and amass a fortune after having plastic surgery.

After having his nose reshaped one year ago, a third year student of law at Build Bright University who asked not to be named said he had a nose which was not attractive and he wanted to make his face more beautiful, so he had it done.

He said he spent about US$300 to get his nose reshaped at a shop near Ou Ruessey Market. “I just wanted to beautify myself more; I did not care how other people talked about me as a man having nose reshaped,” he added.

Even though having dyed hair, plastic surgery and the latest styles matter to some, many older people are not comfortable with what some young men are doing.



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